Zoning, planning & development

Get a public open space review

Service overview

When developments include public open spaces, they contribute to a lively urban environment. These spaces are often:

  • Parks.
  • Plazas.
  • Public lobbies.

The public open space review considers a proposed development’s benefit to the public. It assesses the site’s design, amenities, and pedestrian access. If a project qualifies, it may get a development bonus such as a floor area or height bonus.

You can request a conceptual public open space review in the planning stages of your project. If you decide to claim a bonus as part of your zoning permit application, your project will undergo another public open space review when you apply for a building permit. This will confirm its eligibility.

When you apply for a building permit, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) will tell you if your project needs a public space review.

Who

Applicants include:

  • Developers.
  • Architects.
  • Engineers.
  • Expediters.

Where and when

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) office is located at:

1515 Arch St.
13th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost

There is no charge for a conceptual public open space review. When you apply for a building permit, the cost of a public open space review is included in its fee.

How

For a public open space review, you must schedule an appointment with PCPC staff. You can contact them at (215) 683-4615.

At your appointment, you’ll need to present plans and other materials that illustrate your proposed public open space. The major components include:

  • A site plan detailing all the components of the public open space. This may include grading, landscaping, water features, lighting, and other features.
  • A detailed description of materials, including lists of plant species and prefabricated components. These components may include seating, tables, trash receptacles, light fixtures, and more.
  • A plan that shows compliance with Complete Streets Handbook Checklist and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • A plan that shows the ratio between public open space to site area. It should also show the square footage amount of contiguous public space.
  • Sectional drawings showing compliance with ground level changes and daylight requirements.
  • Your building permit application.

Refer to the PCPC regulations for complete submission requirements. To qualify for a development bonus, the applicant must demonstrate a long term commitment to the public open space and a restrictive covenant must be recorded.


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